I'm still spending most of my time at the house in West Farleigh where work is progressing frustratingly slowly, two steps forward then one step back seems to be the pace at the moment. Some days our goal of being moved in by Christmas seems a little optimistic, but fingers crossed it might happen.
Last Tuesday (30th Oct) I managed a visit to New Hythe lakes, I met Terry Laws there and between us we managed to see 52 different species of birds. It was a good day for raptors, with Kestrel, at least two Buzzards and a confusing amount of Sparrowhawks. I'm not sure how many different individuals we saw but there were a minimum of three seen in the air together at one time with singletons noted all through the morning. The most surprising species though was a Harris Hawk, complete with jesses which flew low across the sunken marsh area accompanied by a few Corvids and then returned later, gained height and headed north. Other notables of the morning included Bullfinch, Little Egret, Redshank, Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail.
On Thursday (1st Nov) I received a text from Terry who was at New Hythe and had found a female Goldeneye, a female Common Scoter and best of all a Shag, all on Brooklands lake at the same time! Well done that man (and on his birthday too)! As luck would have it I had just left West Farleigh and was able to divert to Brooklands, arriving there about 15 minutes later. The Scoter was soon found again but we couldn't relocate the Shag. We wondered if it might have moved on to Abbey Mead so we went to have a look. Again it wasn't found, but we did flush a Woodcock close to the lake, a treat to see with the sun highlighting its plumage and a good early record for NH. Disappointed at failing to find the Shag, I left Terry and drove to my Mum's house in Snodland for a consolation cup of coffee. While there another text from Terry confirmed the reappearance of the elusive New Hythe mega. I really wish my Mum hadn't asked me what type of bird I was dashing off to see, but she did, and I told her, she's still laughing! Anyway, within minutes of arriving back at Brooklands the Shag was in the bag (species number 105 for the NH year). I took some record shots of it but my lens wasn't up to the distance unfortunately, but at least I saw it.
A further short visit to NH this morning proved less exciting, but surprisingly the female Scoter was still on Brooklands lake, along with rafts of Tufties (I counted 75 just in the NW corner), and a couple of Shovelers, the first of the season I think. There were two Redshanks on the river along with a lone Lapwing and three Little Grebes. The sunken marsh was full of Redwings who were plundering the berry crops in earnest. They won't last long at that rate. Four Reed Buntings were also feeding on the seed heads in the marsh and a flock of possibly 50 to 60 Fieldfares flew over along with a couple of smaller flocks, all coming in over the Downs from the NE.
Abbey Mead lake was brimming with birds, mostly Coots as usual but with good numbers of Pochards and Gadwalls too. I couldn't see the three or four Wigeon who have been there recently, but it's a big lake and they could have been tucked away somewhere. Lastly, I saw just one dragonfly today, a Migrant Hawker pictured above, who has somehow managed to survive a couple of frosty nights and still look in decent nick. Not a bad record for November 6th.